Can Society Handle Peacemaker?
Superhero or Guilty Pleasure?
HBO’s Peacemaker has come to an end and many people have recognized this “hero” as being problematic and insensitive. In this day and age is this a hero you can openly support or is he a guilty pleasure to enjoy in secret?
Peacemaker stars wrestling all-star John Cena. He reprises his role as the titular character Peacemaker first seen in The Suicide Squad. From the start of the series, Peacemaker is accused of being both a villain and racist.
Is Peacemaker a Problem?
Peacemaker can best be compared to another racist from television history: Archie Bunker from All in the Family.
For those too young to know, All In The Family is a television show that first aired in 1979 when the United States was experiencing integration in many public forums. But racism and bigotry were still rampant. Instead of shying away from this, All In The Family made a racist bigot the protagonist of the show. He is often mean and surly, but people enjoyed the show; it ran for 4 years.
People enjoy the show, not in support of Archie’s ideals, but to laugh and ridicule those ideals as the nation grew to be more accepting. The audience learns that Archie’s racism comes from a place of ignorance more than pure hate and that there is a glimmer of hope that one day he will change for the better.
And this holds true for Peacemaker. In a time where so many people get their news from dubious sources and only believe the correspondent that can shout the loudest, Peacemaker is that homophobic, racist, sexist idiot everyone can laugh at.
And somehow HBO gets the audience to pity him. By showing where he came from; being raised by a literal white supremacist supervillain, taught to fight and kill as a child, and then rejected by his family for doing what they taught him, audiences feel some kind of sympathy for him.
He is still a terrible person and like all terrible people, he believes in what he does. He is the hero of his own story and that obliviousness and self-denial is Peacemaker’s real superpower.
Movie Magic Vs HBO Grit
But seeing how he is raised, how could Peacemaker have turned out any different?
Seeing how he was raised is actually one of the biggest assets to the character and the show as a whole. It is easy to compare Peacemaker to another member of the Suicide Squad who got her own movie: Harley Quinn.
Harley got her own movie, Birds of Prey after the character increased in popularity. The movie made Harley the hero but unlike Peacemaker, audiences don’t see any progression from villain to hero. She just is good.
Peacemaker on the other hand shows audiences how the character grew up and got to the point where he is today. He does not change much in the show, but the reasons behind his actions become more clear.
The show is enjoyable and the humor is dark. Peacemaker, while a terrible, sexist, murderer, is a great lead for the series and one of John Cena’s best roles as an actor. The character is ridiculous enough that it is impossible to idolize him.
The comedy is generally good with a few jokes that seem to drag just a bit too long, but that is to be expected from the series creator, James Gunn.
The show is not for everyone, Peacemaker is a caricature of problematic thinking in modern society, but that means he says some things people may find offensive. If you can handle jokes about racism, sexism, or violence then I would recommend HBO’s Peacemaker.
Fortunately, society can handle this raunchy show. No one idolizes Archie Bunker and so I have hope that no one will idolize Peacemaker. Both are fun to watch and fun to laugh at, but neither is anyone worth spending time with.
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Christopher Thomas is a contributing writer here at thepyrrhic.com. He enjoys movies, television, and other forms of nerdery.
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